The other day, following the market crash, my first instinct was to react. "Cut back now" is what my intellect told me to do. "Wait, Eric" is what my gut said. I realized that if I reacted immediately, I'd be putting the livelihoods of my employees (and their families) at risk. Though, like you, we have cut every possible excess in our company and then some, I knew my reaction would cause a chain reaction -- and so will yours. Your terminations will impact local businesses, as will their terminations, and so on, and so on. Therefore I decided that I am going to try to hold on to the status quo as long as possible, even though there may be sacrifices. Why? I don't want to put the economy in worse shape and I don't want to lose my most valuable resources. For me, that single attitude adjustment, to not overreact, has helped my state of mind and reduced the gloom. Naive? Perhaps.
It's time to CHALLENGE ALL ASSUMPTIONS. Why do we do what we do? Why do we sell the way we sell? Why do we run the commercial units we run? Since we make most of our revenues from ad units, and since that revenue is dwindling, why not decide to make all of our money elsewhere? Why rely on commercials anymore? Chris Anderson of Wired says money made in the future will be made on the concept of Free! There is nothing written that says we must make our revenues from commercial units and advertising as we know it. Why not experiment with something new?
Having involved the employees, Brad had to respond to the ideas and couldn't play the top-down "Here's a reason that idea won't work." As a result, Best Buy reinvented itself, came up with many great initiatives, and improved its business significantly. In one case, the design of every store in the chain was changed based on the idea of one clerk at a small-town Best Buy. In another case, the entire order-entry system was reinvented because of the input of a salesperson at the store level. The Best Buy model Brad told me about is not to have autocratic decisions made by top executives, but for decisions to be pushed to the local store level with strong employee participation. What if radio were to listen to the ideas of its employees? What if radio got away from "McDonald's-like" franchise systems (which don't seem to be working anyway) and moved back to local managers making local decisions? After all, employees are the rubber that meets the road and are closest to customers and listeners. What if radio had interactive systems that gave employees and advertisers the ability to give us their ideas, while other employees and advertisers voted on them? No idea is a bad idea. Now is the time when we need to try everything.
When someone gets me on the phone and starts whining about the economy, I either change the subject or try to change their perspective. NO MORE WALLOWING IN MISERY FOR ME. What about you? What leadership are you offering your employees and your co-workers? So, rather than talking about what you've lost in the market and how gloomy things are going to be, let's talk about what we can gain. Sometimes a fresh start is the best possible opportunity. Fortunes were made during the Great Depression. Market dominance often shifts during recessionary periods because market leaders stop advertising to cut expenses while underdogs get aggressive and build their brands at a lower cost and with less resistance. How can radio take advantage of this opportunity? Let's turn this lemon into.... well, you know.